by Jeff Bramhall
WARWICK, RHODE ISLAND — This weekend marks the finale of the inaugural Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge as well as the final leg of the Verge New England Cyclo-Cross Series. Over the past three months, we’ve been treated to the best and most competitive racing in the country, boasting huge fields with marquee riders from across the globe. With the New England hotbed of cyclocross racing’s storied past, this season has been able to showcase the heritage through America’s best courses, while also, through the rapidly growing Amateur fields for both men and women, demonstrating that New England is also the future of cyclocross in America.
The NBX Gran Prix of Cross has long been the final round of the Verge Series, and for good reason. The courses boast long sand features, extremely technical wooded sections and long power sections. In short, Goddard Park in Warwick, Rhode Island, the host venue for NBX, is the epitome of ideal cyclocross – technical, challenging and unrelenting. This year’s edition has the added distinction of playing host to the final rounds of the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series. The Shimano series, which is one of only a small handful of UCI conscripted series in the United States, boasts a prize list of $20,000, split evenly between the men and women.
The Elite Women’s racing at NBX will be top notch, as we will see the best racers on the East Coast. Matt Bodziony, the lead promoter of NBX has pledged equal prize money to the top 15 in the Elite Women’s race both days. Shimano Series leader Laura Van Gilder (C3 p/b Mellow Mushroom) will be aiming to defend her lead. She’s coming off a great weekend in Sterling at Bay State Cross where she picked up victory both days on vastly different courses and in different ways. Van Gilder is clearly a rider whose quiver contains diversity of strengths. Sally Annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles) comes into the weekend in hopes of dethroning Van Gilder and racking up some valuable UCI points in the run up to Nationals. Annis has performed admirably this season and is sure to give Van Gilder a run for her money. Also challenging for the wins this weekend will be teammates Andrea Smith and Crystal Anthony of LadiesFirst Racing. These two are relative newcomers to cyclocross but are constantly challenging for victory. Either one is capable of picking up a win or two this weekend. Local favorite Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles) has begun to come on to the best form of her season over the past few weeks and thrives on technical courses like those at NBX. Don’t be surprised to see her on the top step this weekend.
On the Elite Men’s side, there is a great, season-long battle between Luke Keough (Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross) and Justin Lindine (bikereg.com/Joe’s Garage) that will come to a close with the $10,000 Showdown in Rhode Island. Keough is making a return from a short European trip where he competed in the U23 race at the Koksijde World Cup. Luke Keough is, in simplest terms, a winner. He has a singular focus and the determination to make vision a reality, and right now, his vision is to take home top honors in both the Elite and U23 divisions of the Shimano Series. Lindine, meanwhile, came out this season with absolute dominance, holding a winning streak that spanned nearly a month, with two victories at the Providence Cross Festival, among others. He came on to the national radar last season, but this has been a breakout year for the workingman.
On the hunt to spoil the Keough-Lindine rivalry include Dylan McNicholas (cyclocrossworld.com), who finally picked up a UCI victory last weekend in Sterling and is ready to dominate the end of the season. McNicholas is best known as a fast starter, but he’s found the ability to stay within himself and has strung together some of the best performances of his career in recent weeks. Currently, he’s positioned third in the Shimano Series, but he isn’t eliminated from overall contention and will definitely be gunning for that number one spot.
Jerome Townsend and Adam Myerson from the SmartStop/MOB are both hoping to take advantage of their great form and go a position or two better this weekend at NBX. Both showed last weekend they’ve got the fitness and the technique to be on the podium, but small mistakes cost them both the top steps they’d been hunting for.
Just confirmed last night, Mike Garrigan (Lapierre Canada) is going to be bringing his blisteringly fast starts to NBX. Garrigan was part of the group of Canadians that made a big impact on the early season in New England, his return means yet another great animator in the races of NBX.
There are also rumors circling that there will be some of the top names from the world’s stage at NBX. Stay tuned for more to come on that.
The Verge Series, which crowns the best Amateur, Juniors and Masters racers of New England, will be concluding this weekend and all the races will be tight until the last day. The Amateur and Junior Men’s races are both led by Team CF’s Peter Goguen, whose season has been extremely consistent. Not a flashy racer, but an incredible competitor, Goguen is finally getting his due in New England racing. Hot on Goguen’s heels is Nate Morse (cyclocrossworld.com). Morse is coming into NBX hoping to pick up the series championships before he leaves for Geoff Proctor’s Euro Cross Camp.
Brian Wilichoski (cyclocrossword.com) has tied up the Masters 35+ series, but there is a great battle for second with four racers in the hunt. Paul Richard (CCB) and Sam Morse (Corner Cycle) are battling for the top step in the 45+ series and will come down to the final race. Bill Sawyer (Gearworks/Spinarts) and David Goodwin (NCC) are head to head in the 55+ and are the tightest race coming into NBX.
The story of the season has been Ellen Noble (Portsmouth Trek) and her utter dominance of the Amateur Women’s field, which will be paid out $250 both days this weekend thanks to the fine folks of NBX Bikes. At only 15 years old, she’s picked up victories in nearly all the races she’s entered. Hers is a name to mark for the future. Behind Noble, there is a battle for second in the Amateur Women that carries over to the Masters Women. Lori Cooke (Cycle Lodge), Kathy Savary (Blue Steel Cyclery) and Karen Tripp (Blue Steel Cyclery) are all in contention for both the Amateur and the Masters. These three have all had impressive seasons and it’s anyone’s guess who will be on top at the end of the day Sunday. Finally, the 10-14 Juniors series is up for grabs among three of the finest young men in New England. Kevin Goguen (Team CF) is in the driver’s seat with Michael Owens (Bliss Racing Belgen Cycles) and Donnie Seib (bikeman.com) hot on his heels.
Stay tuned to Cyclocross Magazine to find out how the showdown progresses.